Free Dive Programme to Teach Rangatahi Water Safety

By Talisa Kupenga

A no-cost free-dive programme is now available to teach youth sea safety skills when gathering seafood for whānau. 

Ngā Kawa o Tangaroa aims to connect the cultural and educational aspects of diving to create more opportunities for youth in the water. 

Cultural and survival skills. Key elements of the youth free-dive course Ngā Kawa o Tangaroa.

Programme co-ordinator Donovan Busby explains, “it was about getting our rangatahi [youth] to thrive in challenging situations when you're out in the ocean."

The course, run through Waipareira Trust aims to teach youth between the ages of 13 years and 18-years-old how to behave around the sea.

Eighteen-year-old Te Rata Kemp says “it's like a different world under there. You're very wary of your surroundings but it's really fun when you get into it.”

Twin brothers Paerau and Te Rata completed the free-dive course last year and hope the skills lead to future work opportunities.

“I wanted to like join the NAVY because of what we learned and become a NAVY diver," Paerau Kemp says.

Youth learn sea knowledge and safety skills, diving and breathing techniques as well as regulations and limits when gathering seafood for their family.

"Learning how to save people in the water,” Te Rata says. “That and learning how to dive properly under water.”

“That's what I wanted to pass on to our rangatahi,” says Donovan.

“You know, give them some skills so they're able to look after their whanau."

For the next two years the programme will be funded through the Henderson Massey local board. Youth receive a free-dive kit including a wetsuit, boots and a weight-belt.

"You know it's that analogy of give a man a fish he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will feed his family for years to come," says Donovan.

Ngā Kawa o Tangaroa expects 36 rangatahi to complete course in the next two years.